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Best Compact SUVs | CarMax

Compact SUVs may be smaller in size but that doesn't mean you'll be missing out on the features, technology, and even cabin space you want from your vehicle. That's true now more than ever, as there are plenty of crossovers available that can comfortably seat five or more passengers while boasting a long range of features—including all-wheel drive.

RepairPal | CarMax

To help you on your search, we've compiled this updated list of the 10 best small and compact SUVs for 2020 shoppers, based on customer reviews, select vehicle specs, and RepairPal reliability ratings.1

  1. Jeep Cherokee
  2. Volvo XC60
  3. Kia Sportage
  4. Ford Escape
  5. Nissan Rogue
  6. Hyundai Tucson
  7. Toyota RAV4
  8. Acura RDX
  9. Honda CR-V
  10. Mazda CX-5


Jeep Cherokee

Best Small and Compact SUVs: Jeep Cherokee | CarMax

If you like having options when you shop, take a look at the Jeep Cherokee. Receiving an update for its fifth generation in 2019, the Cherokee offers you the addition of a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that's available on all trim levels: Latitude, Latitude Plus, Limited, Overland, and Trailhawk. Standard features on the 2019 Jeep Cherokee include:

  • Bi-LED headlamps
  • Independent suspension
  • 27 cubic feet of cargo space
  • Uconnect® infotainment system
  • Backup camera

There are two more engines to choose from on all 2017–2019 vehicles: a 3.2L Pentastar® V6 making 271 hp and a 2.4L Tigershark four-cylinder making 180 hp—all mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission.


Volvo XC60

Best Compact SUVs: Volvo XC60 | CarMax

Do you care just as much about form as you do function? Then the Volvo XC60 with its clean, eye-catching style is an ideal candidate. The current model debuted in 2018 and can be found in three separate well-equipped trims: the base Momentum, the sporty R-Design, and the premium Inscription. Standard features on the 20182019 Volvo XC60 include:

  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Panoramic sunroof
  • Leatherette upholstery
  • Power driver seat with memory
  • Leather steering wheel

You'll find a choice of three different engines with 2018 to 2020 Volvo XC60s. And with the base powertrain, you'll get a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder outputting 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque paired with an eight-speed Geartronic™ transmission.


Kia Sportage

Best Compact SUVs: Kia Sportage | CarMax

Receiving a redesign in 2017, the third-generation Kia Sportage is bound to turn heads as you drive on by thanks to its signature tiger-nose grille. The 2017 and newer base and mid-tier LX and EX go for a polished appearance utilizing touches of chrome, while the SX Turbo gets a little more aggressive by sporting LED fog lamps and 19-inch alloy wheels. Standard features on the 2017 and up Kia Sportage include:

  • 2.4L four-cylinder motor
  • Five-inch touchscreen display
  • Bluetooth connectivity®
  • Rearview camera
  • 160-watt six-speaker stereo

Stepping up to the SX Turbo (2017-2020) swaps out the 2.4L for a 2.0L turbocharged engine and bundles plenty of extras like heated and ventilated seating and driver-assist technologies.


Ford Escape

Best Compact SUVs: Ford Escape | CarMax

If you're looking to add a bit of technology to your daily commute, consider the Ford Escape. The 2017 Escape was the first Ford vehicle to debut the high-tech SYNC® 3 infotainment system which utilizes pinch-and-zoom navigation reminiscent of smartphones and can be found at the range-topping Titanium trim (2017 to 2019). The other same-year models, S and SE, use the base SYNC Connect. Standard features on the 2017 to 2019 Ford Escape include:

  • Automatic headlights
  • 60/40-split rear seats
  • Body-color rear spoiler
  • Ford MyKey®
  • Dual-chrome exhaust tips

You can also expect a wide range of engine choices at every trim level: S trim sports a 2.5L four-cylinder engine, the SE gets a 1.5L turbocharged EcoBoost® four-cylinder, and the Titanium is equipped with a 2.0L turbocharged Ecoboost four-cylinder. Some examples of optional equipment are a foot-activated power liftgate, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and a 10-speaker Sony® stereo.


Nissan Rogue

Best Compact SUVs: Nissan Rogue | CarMax

If you're looking for an SUV that has plenty of interior space despite its smaller size, the Nissan Rogue deserves a test drive. Receiving a refresh in 2017, the Rogue's third-row bench is available at the S and SV trim levels, giving you plenty of seating for you and six other passengers. Standard features on 2017 to 2020 Nissan Rouges include:

  • Sliding, reclining, and folding rear seats
  • Cargo management system
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Satellite radio
  • Four-speaker stereo

All 2017–2019 Rogues are driven by a 2.5L four-cylinder, excluding the Hybrid model which is equipped with a 2.0L four-cylinder gasoline engine complemented by a small lithium-ion battery and 30-kilowatt electric motor. Both are mated to an Xtronic CVT.

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Hyundai Tucson

Best Compact SUVs: Hyundai Tucson | CarMax

With 2017-2020 Hyundai Tucsons you can expect plenty of comfort and convenience at no extra cost. If you're interested in technology as well, take comfort knowing the Tucson sports high-tech mainstays like backup warning sensors, a tire-pressure monitoring system, and more. Other standard features on the 2017-2020 Hyundai Tucson include:

  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Heated side mirrors
  • Rear spoiler
  • Tinted glass
  • Tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel

You'll find the 2017-2020 Tucson available in four different trim levels: SE, Eco, Sport, and Limited. Moving higher in levels adds features like fog lights (Eco), push-button start (Sport), and LED headlights and taillights (Limited).


Toyota RAV4

Best Compact SUVs: Toyota RAV4 | CarMax

If you're a gadget lover who's on the hunt for cutting edge tech like Amazon Alexa™ and Apple CarPlay® compatibility, the 2019-2020 Toyota RAV4 deserves a spot on your shopping list. Other standard features you can expect on the redesigned, 2019 Toyota RAV4s include:

  • LED headlights and taillights
  • Toyota's suite of driver-assistance features
  • Entune 3.0 infotainment system
  • Electronic parking brake
  • Low-profile roof rails

2019 RAV4s are available in five different trim levels: LE, XLE, XLE Premium, Adventure, and Limited, each powered by a 203-hp Dynamic Force 2.5L four-cylinder engine.


Acura RDX

Best Compact SUVs: Acura RDX | CarMax

If you're shopping for a compact SUV that gives you powerful performance wrapped in an aesthetically-striking package, the 2019 Acura RDX belongs in your driveway. Especially when it comes to performance, you will love the 272-hp engine and unique but practical 10-speed transmission. Other standard features on the 2019-2020 Acura RDX include:

  • 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine
  • 10.2-inch high-definition central display
  • Jewel Eye® LED headlights
  • Automatic windshield wipers
  • Mobile hotspot capability

While the RDX offers plenty from standard, there are also the Technology, A-Spec, and Advance packages available from 2019 to 2020, adding even more features to the RDX's already robust lineup. If the 2017–2018 RDX is more your speed, you can expect a 3.5L V6 producing 279 hp and a wide range of driver-assist features including adaptive cruise control.


Honda CR-V

Best Compact SUVs: Honda CR-V | CarMax

If you want a small SUV with a bit of power under the hood, all 2017-2020 Honda CR-V EXs and higher now feature turbocharged engines as part of its fifth-generation makeover. And if you're looking for a bit more confidence behind the driver seat, take comfort in knowing available all-wheel drive can be found as an option at every trim level. Standard features on the 2017-2020 Honda CRV include:

  • Standard LED daytime running lights
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Tailgate spoiler
  • Automatic climate control
  • Four-speaker 160-watt stereo

Bigger in size compared to previous generation models (2011–2016), the rear-seat legroom is increased by 2.1 inches, giving your passengers a bit of added comfort. Hauling cargo is also made easier as well due to a one-touch fold-down second row found on all models (2017 to 2020).


Mazda CX-5

Best Compact SUVs: Mazda CX-5 | CarMax

If you're after a small SUV with a style as striking as it is subtle, 2017 to 2020 Mazda CX-5s have a lot to offer. The headlamp housings are thinner and sleeker, the stance lower and wider, and the signature Soul Red paint deeper and brighter—it'll have on-lookers staring just parked in the driveway. Standard features on the 20172019 Mazda CX-5 include:

  • 2.5-litre SKYACTIV®-G engine
  • LED headlights
  • Push-button start
  • Rearview camera
  • Dual USB ports

If even more features are what you're after, take a look at the Touring trim, which comes with heated front seats and auto-leveling headlights. And if that's not enough, check out the Grand Touring trim which adds a 10-speaker Bose® stereo system and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

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When it comes to small and compact SUVs, smaller in size doesn't have to mean fewer features or even less room. There's plenty of options on the market, so there's bound to be a small or compact SUV out there for you.

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1RepairPal Reliability Ratings are provided by RepairPal and CarMax is not responsible for their accuracy. RepairPal Reliability Ratings are based on the actual cost, frequency, and severity of unscheduled repairs and maintenance on make/model data for select 2010–2019 vehicles. The reliability of a specific vehicle may vary depending on its maintenance and driving history, model year, trim, and features. Learn more at www.carmax.com/repairpal-reliability.
Unless otherwise noted, information related to these featured vehicles comes from third-party sources, including manufacturer information. Product and company names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of third-party entities. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by these entities.